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TargetingMantra: Helping Customers Shop Better With Personalization Solutions

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When was the last time you visited a shopping store to buy something matching your taste? You must have thought such an experience would not have been possible at an online store. When you are at a retail store buying clothes, store representative shows you all the great collections one by one. Within a minute from your expressions, he/she understands your taste and narrows down his/her search to find for you something that suits your needs best. With advices and compliments, the store representative encourages you to make the purchase creating a win-win situation.

This was not possible on online stores until now. Today personalization is very new in e-commerce. Amazon was one of the initial pioneers in this domain, while a majority of other ecommerce businesses are still following suit. Indian origin expert, Saurabh Nangia (alumnus of UIUC & IIT-Guwahati) had steered a similar project to take personalization to new levels while he was at Amazon.

TargetingMantra Saurabh and Rahul

Saurabh’s intense hard work and intelligently made calculations came right in line with expectations as his new tool brought an appreciable difference to the whole user experience and conversion rate.  At the success of developing an excellent personalization solution, Saurabh had understood that the tool could provide ample business opportunities, especially in emerging markets. He convinced his friend Rahul Singh to embark on a journey of adventure and entrepreneurship with him.

This cloud based personalization platform creates real time suggestions based on customer’s browsing and shopping habits along with the insights from the profiles of similar users and comparable taste. These suggestions help customers find similar items from the catalogue, new releases, what others are buying and popular combinations of products.

Today TargetingMantra is providing a number of business solutions to various e-commerce websites that includes Similarities, Recommendation Widgets and Targeting Tools, everything from personalization to customization to analytics.

TargetingMantra personalization solutions

1. What inspired you to come up with this idea?

With the rate at which amount of data available online was multiplying, I identified the need for something that could curate this data for users. Currently, there is over 3ZB (1021 bytes) data created online every year. Therefore a good personalization and targeting solution is needed for any online business that wants to deliver a good customer experience. The amount of resources (both time and money) that went into building an in-house world-class personalization solution were not feasible for SMEs. This gap is further accentuated by the dearth of experts in the field of big data and personalization, across the world. There was a business opportunity out here. These companies were spending a lot on customer acquisition, but were unable to retain customers, increase customer loyalty and increase conversion rates. Therefore, it was clear that only if they could get a personalization service at a reasonable price they will gladly use the service. We therefore came up with a SaaS based personalization solution.

In this process, I also realized that people do not have access to important metrics about their business for making strategic decisions. As we were already profiling users, we therefore also started providing detailed insightful analytics to businesses.

2. How did you transform your idea into a startup venture? What were the things in your checklist before working on it full time?

There are three important things that one must look into before working on any idea full time. First is validating the feasibility of your idea. Having worked in machine learning for over 5 years, I knew that it is possible to use machine learning to personalize the web. SaaS services had already started becoming popular and people were receptive to third-party solutions. Second was validating the market. Quite often, either the market is not ready for the product or does not need it at all. We actually talked to 3-4 major e-commerce players in India and asked them if they would be interested in such a service if offered it to them. All of them came back to us with a positive response confirming that they were more than eager to try it out. The third and most important thing is to check if you are ready for the start-up.  It is a tough journey, with statistics telling you more startups fail than succeed. There is no right age, time or method to know this but the day you feel ready to quit your comfortable job for your passion is the day you are ready.

3. How did you all meet and form TargetingMantra team?

Rahul and I know each other for over 7 years now, as we are family friends. We used to discuss a lot of ideas earlier but it was only with TargetingMantra and the idea behind it that convinced us to take the leap of faith and quit our jobs to pursue our venture. Our other early team members are all passionate individuals whom we met at different start-up events or online on similar forums and who shared their interest in our idea.

4. How easy or difficult is it to start a business in India?

To start a business in India is definitely no cakewalk. However it has improved a lot over the last five years. Legal, taxation and other process are not streamlined. For any manufacturing unit or a hospitality sector outlet depending on the type, dozens of licenses are required from different agencies. On the other hand, building software companies is slightly easier in India. Talent is cheaper and living expenses are lower compared to US. It is easier to validate product market fit in India market and then grow internationally after that. Receiving funding and credit is still difficult at early stages for entrepreneurs, as people and institutions are quite risk averse. Compared to US, it is also difficult to find early adopters amongst potential customers.

5. What all market industries and regions does your product target? 

Being a ‘Software as a Service’ (SaaS) product we can actually target any region including North America, Africa, Europe or Asia Pacific. We have started offering it in India as it was the home market but within the next 6 months we plan to integrate with international companies as well.

Regarding industries, personalization is required by all websites including e-commerce, media, job portals, dating etc. As content grows it will become increasingly important to curate it better for users. We have started with e-commerce but plan to extend our services to other industries soon.

6. What do you think of the future of online shopping industry in India where until few years ago people hesitated using their credit/debit cards online.

While the number of customers purchasing online is still a small fraction of the Indian population and it will take 3-4 years to reach a level that is comparable to the developed world, a few drivers will help it take there. Mobile commerce is the main driver and is growing so rapidly that many e-commerce players believe in a year or so, they will be selling more from mobile than other devices. With smart phones becoming as cheap as $100 it has suddenly opened doors for e-commerce firms which were struggling to reach the masses. Now they are actually trying to get the ‘fortune at the bottom of the pyramid’. Cash on delivery is another enabler which has tremendously increased the penetration to masses who do not necessarily believe in paying through cards online.  Low credit/ debit card usage is no more the major hurdle for the sector. However I must add that offline and un-organized retail are also not going to go away in the near future as it happened in other countries.  So in the future, as share of online shopping increases so will the size of the total retail pie keeping the all channels alive and kicking.

7. According to you where does online shopping industry in India stand compared to that in the developed world?

It is one of the fastest growing industries globally right now. Almost all products are available online now right from apparel, jewellery, health products to midnight meals and car accessories.  The model is evolving more on the lines of China with more focus on the market place model unlike the US where each brand has its own online presence. The logistics infrastructure is continuously improving with few companies now offering same day delivery in select cities. Companies are trying to learn the global best practices.

However with heavy discounting and high customer acquisition costs hardly any company is making money. This is bleeding the sector overall and multiple sites are shutting down every month. However, opportunity lies in abundance in the Indian market and the time to take the plunge is now.

Find more about TargetingMantra. Also follow them for latest developments on your favourite social media network.



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Russian by roots, global citizen by choice. In love with India and Indian culture, love to report everything from politics to military news. Against the controlled media.

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Business Essentials to Cross off Your Checklist This Year

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There are a lot of elements that you are going to need to work on when it comes to improving and enhancing your business, and this is why you have to look at the best possible business essentials. There are so many things that you are going to need to get right if you are serious about making the right changes for your business. Try to do as much as you can to improve the company moving forward, and work on taking steps to get this right. 

You are going to need to focus on doing as much as possible to make a difference to your business right now. There are a lot of things that play a part in taking things to the next level for your business. And you have a lot you need to consider when trying to achieve the best success you can. Here is a checklist of some of the top business essentials you need to be crossing off this year. 

Improve Your Efficiency 

Improving your efficiency as a company is one of the most important things you can do, and this is why it is so important to make sure you focus on getting this right as much as possible. You are going to have to focus on doing what you can to get your company operating in a more efficient manner, and there are a lot of things you can do to help you achieve this. Look at things like outsourcing and trying to digitize the business as much as you possibly can. 

Bolster Your Security

Business security is so important for protecting the future of the brand, and this is something you are going to have to get right as much as possible. Now, these days, it is so important to make sure you think about the threat of cybersecurity, as this is something that can cause problems for your business. So, you need to make sure you look at what you can do to improve your company’s cybersecurity and guard against cybercrime and online attacks that could harm your business. 

Look for Value

You need to make sure you look for value wherever you can find it, and this can make a huge difference to the way the business comes across. There are a lot of elements that play a role in being able to get this right as much as possible and you have to consider where you can source value as a business owner. For example, looking at things like used agricultural machinery is an excellent way of being able to find and make the most of value in the modern business world.

Hire the Best Talent

Hiring the best talent for your business is also something you need to sort out right now. There are a lot of tips and techniques you can use to help you here, and having a strong hiring policy will really help you out. This is one of the most important elements that you are going to have to keep in mind right now, and it will help you to make the best decisions as a business owner right now. 

You need to have an idea in mind of what you can do to make the best possible business decisions right now, and take things to the next level. There are a lot of decisions that need to be made, and this is something that plays a big part in that process as well. Do what you can to focus on improving the business by making sure you look at these essentials as much as possible. 

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Why A Great Website Is Always A Business’ Top Priority

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Photo by Domenico Loia

If you run your own company, whether that’s digital or refers to the old bricks and mortar business, you may be wondering how you can make it more appealing to potential product/service buyers. This will refer to getting yourself a website that provides information, graphics, videos and much more. Once you have established your website, you must ensure you’re hitting the targets that you want.  There are a few steps you can undertake to ensure your website starts to do better, which will in turn lead to the generation of sales and new connections.

Style is key, the substance to all website design 

People buy into good aesthetics and design because it looks well thought through and it boasts good features that will make any reader impressed.  If something looks appealing, if the graphics are gorgeous and your imagery is beautiful, then people will be much more likely to click through links and other pages. If the website is well designed, people will stay on your page longer which is a key factor when trying to boost your SEO and ranking. SEO is the goal, ensuring that search engines can see your website and that it is being taken seriously. Look at your design, what is going to be appealing, what design fits your brand? You will most likely want to hire a professional, a graphic designer. You may look at Superside’s design process and understand the steps in graphic design that can really assist your brand. Then once this has been established, you should aim to be consistent with every single post and page of your website. The goal is for it to look professional as this will really enhance your website. Look for royalty free images if you are unable to access a HD camera yourself or pay a photographer to help you with imagery and put out well crafted messages and information to your readers, with calls to action if necessary. Style and design is going to shape how people see your brand. 

SEO is your bread and butter

Marketing your website is tricky, but with some simple steps, you can start to see a difference in the way that people are viewing your business. Using keywords and buzzwords as well as plenty of healthy links, will help or you can take it one step further and look at a company to assist you. Once you have mastered SEO or hired someone to do this for you, then you will want to maximize on the amount of keywords you use and aim to use them often to reach Google searches, depending on where you use your keywords. Good clear titles, consistency with the content is also key – what do your readers want to know about your business? Any good business person will know their demographics and have used these demographics to their best advantage. Someone within digital marketing will be able to greatly assist you with this. 

Some of the main benefits of SEO will already be ingrained in your mind but if you need some added assistance on the matter, then these eight reasons may just really help reinforce the benefits (according to industry professionals):

  1. SEO Leads to Better User Experience. 
  2. SEO Is a Primary Source of Leads. 
  3. SEO Brings Higher Close Rates. 
  4. SEO Results to Higher Conversion Rate. 
  5. SEO Promotes Better Cost Management. 
  6. SEO Encourages Local Users to Visit the Physical Store After the Search. 
  7. SEO Builds Brand Credibility. 
  8. SEO Helps Establish Brand Awareness.

All of the above lead to a better online presence and you can start to see the benefits of how it can benefit your business. In e-commerce, SEO is vital because of the plethora of competition that you have to face daily. You need to show that your company stands out.

Social media will become your best friend

If you’re not already doing this, then connect your website and brand upto social media and start to use it to its full potential. Be brand consistent, which in essence means having an awareness of your brand and being able to hone in on the areas of it that make it special. Creating themes, logos and style throughout and tone of voice is so important and having a presence online allows your customers to clearly see what is going on in terms of your business, changes, offers and service updates. Social Media will definitely improve your website’s standing and it can be known as a great way to drive traffic to your page. Use Pinterest and Facebook, too. On facebook, you will find access to further assistance such as paid ads and display ads that will allow you to reach set audiences. Paid ads and campaigns can be massively useful and you can target your ads to the people who want to see them. 

Twitter can be helpful if you want to use hashtags and join in with communities similar to yours. Online sources state that social media is one of the biggest vital tools that you can use for your business. It provides numerous benefits, including: 

  1. Faster, Easier Communication. Customers can contact a customer service representative faster and easier now than ever before thanks to social media. 
  2. Networking & Partnerships – Collaborations is one way to start building that all important database of customers and other businesses.
  3. Boost Organic Visibility – Who is going to see your website first? Perhaps it is people who have not been directed but naturally stumble across on Google.
  4. Increase Website Traffic – Get more people to come and visit your page.
  5. Customer Feedback – What they think of your products and how they want to communicate with you.
  6. Impress Potential Customers – What will they think of your brand and how do you draw them in?
  7. Branding – allow your brand to flourish further. 
  8. Track Your Competition – See how they are doing things and how it differs from you.

Bottom line, your business website and the way in which you promote it, is a vital tool in seeing it flourish.

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Preparing To Start A New Business: Things To Think About

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There aren’t many people who don’t daydream about becoming their own boss. However, the percentage of those who do daydream about and those who actually do it is a lot lower. What is it about becoming our own boss that stops us from following our dreams and turning a dream into a reality?

For many people, it is the fear of the unknown. Not knowing if you are making the right decision can be the tipping point for many people. Another hurdle is money and, dare we say it; self-belief can be a huge factor in starting your own business. If you don’t believe in what you are selling, then it goes without saying that no one else will either.

Removing all the obstacles you place in front of yourself is the first step to starting your journey to becoming your own boss.

Business plan

Every new start-up and trading business needs a business plan. Why? Well, for starters to steer you in the right direction to making a success for your new venture. Knowing what you want from your company, where it is going and where it could potentially go will give you something to aim for and make sure you deliver what is required to make your company successful.

What exactly does a business plan comprise of?

Essentially it is a detailed list of the projected journey of the company to help you steer it in the right direction. What the plan involves can be different depending on your trajectory and what you are offering, but the following will help you to form a plan and know where to start. 

  • What are you selling?
  • Who is your customer base?
  • What percentage profit can you expect to make in the first year? 
  • What is your initial outlay cost to get up and running?
  • Is there scope to expand in your sector?
  • Do you have a USP? (Unique Selling Point)
  • How do you plan to find and attract customers?
  • Why will your customers stay with your company?
  • How do you plan to evolve the company and expand?
  • Are there ways you can adapt what you do and offer more services/different products?
  • Where do you see the company in 5 years?
  • How do you plan to get your company to that point in 5 years?

A thorough and detailed plan will help you for many years to come, not just for their initial starting period.

Know yourself

And know what you want to do and how you plan to get there. Building a new company for the wrong reasons will never work out well and may end up leaving you in a worse place than you were before you started. With as many as 50% of businesses failing in the first five years, knowing how to succeed and being willing to do what it takes will help you stand the test of time if you are genuinely doing it for the right reasons. 

Combine your goals with your personal drive and perseverance and make sure that you are fully committed to making it a success. Simply starting a new business because you dislike working for other people or you think it is a get rich quick scheme will no doubt be your undoing if this is why you are starting a new business.

Financial outlay

Do you need money to get the company up and running? If so, you need to know precisely what you need and how much money you will need before you start looking for loans or financial backers. Some companies will be able to start up on a very small or even no budget at all. Other companies will need to look at purchasing stock, finding premises, and making sure they have everything they need to run their company successfully.

Warehouses, industrial sheds, offices, and tech for employees don’t come cheap, so factoring them into your budget is essential before you start looking for finance options.

Is there a market for what you are selling?

Who is your ideal customer? How are you going to sell them? If there is no market for your service or product, chances are you may struggle to find suitable buyers or to get people’s attention.

Being able to identify a gap in the market and fill it will help you to attract the right customer for your company. You need to demonstrate a willingness to be able to adapt to meet the demands of a changing market and satisfy the consumer needs as and when they change. Diversifying is something that will help your company stay heads and shoulders above the rest and keep you relevant and able to fulfil your client’s needs as they change.

Having a unique selling point will mean you are offering people something they aren’t getting elsewhere or may not even realize they need. Identify a gap in the market and strive to fill it before someone else does. A great way to do this is by asking current or potential clients what they are looking for and what would make their lives easier. Then, you can adapt what you do to meet this demand.

Keep an eye on the competition

Always know what they are doing and make sure you are competing on the same playing field. Copying them may seem dishonest but staying ahead of the market is essential for your company to survive, so make it your business to know new and emerging trends within your sector. Keep on top of client demands and know exactly who your competitors are and what they are offering.

Make sure to stick to your company’s values and integrate any new ideas, ways of working, or new products/services as and when demand calls for it and emulate the success of your competition for yourself.

Starting off on the right foot with a solid plan in place will give you a better head start when it comes to starting up your business.

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